The Bad News – Old habits are hard to change. Nearly a quarter of people give up on resolutions by the end of the first week, and nearly half don’t continue to February.
The Good News - Many experts say setting a “SMART” goal, and gaining support from family and friends are two of the most important factors for success.
What’s a SMART goal? One that has these five characteristics:
- SPECIFIC: Describe your goal in concrete terms. “Lose 25 pounds” is more specific than “be healthier.”
- MEASURABLE: Define your goal so you can measure both progress and success. If your goal is “Lose 25 pounds,” you can check regularly with an accurate weight scale. Opt for a Bluetooth enabled weight scale, such as FORA’s TN’G Scale 550 which instantly uploads readings to a smartphone app and allows you to chart your progress over time. It’s a little pricier than a regular weight scale, but well worth not having to write down each measurement. Plus, normal water-weight fluctuations are less frustrating when you can see your long-term progress on a chart.
- ATTAINABLE: Make sure you have a practical plan to attain your goal. “Consume less than 1,000 calories a day” isn’t a plan likely to succeed over the long haul. To calculate your specific calorie needs to lose weight, there are apps available in the App Store or Google Play that can help you. Also, look at the average calories you consume now, and do a few tests to see how many calories you can get by on while maintaining your energy and positive mood.
- REALISTIC: The goal must be something that is possible to achieve – challenging enough to be motivating, but doable. Professional physical trainers recommend that you lose no more than one or two pounds per week. If you lose weight gradually you have a more realistic outlook for keeping it off for good.
- TIMELY: Give the goal a deadline, so you can gauge your progress, and you know exactly where the “Finish” line is. So shoot to meet your goal before a special event such as your birthday or vacation. Not only will it give you motivation to buy new clothes for that event, you’ll also have the opportunity to celebrate your success with family or friends who can help keep you on track through mutual support and encouragement or even a little bit of competition. Others can help hold you accountable for keeping your resolution and give you encouragement when you have a setback and toast you (or share your birthday cake) when you reach your goal.
- SMART Goal Example: Lose an average of 1½ pounds per week for 5 months. (30 pounds total) Track calories aiming for 1,750 calories/per day. Weigh in every Sunday morning. Buy a new bathing suit for my birthday and celebrate attaining my weight loss goal by going on a vacation to Hawaii on June 1st.